Ontario Tries to KO Boxer Beer

January 19th, 2010

Boxer Beer has been stirring up quite the controversy in Ontario, Canada over its marketing. Looking at the image to the right, lets all take a minute to guess what the problem is. Scantily clad woman? Nope. “Beer of Champions?” Try again. Boxing Gloves? You got it! Oh and the name, too. Needless to say, Majit and Ravinder Minhas, the owners of Minhas Creek Brewing Company were as surprised at the news as we were.

Manjit Minhas told the Sun recently that the AGCO investigation came as a surprise for the bargain brand that boasts it is sold at the lowest legal price and comes only in cans.

“We’d been working with them for a number of months to get all our approvals and licences in a row,” she said. “The beer was released in early November, it had been on the shelves for about five weeks, when we got this letter from them.”

I’ve been getting some comments lately on the Smuttynose Imperial Stout Review and their inability to “accurately describe their beer” which arises from some weird law about making claims regarding beer or advertising beer. The debacle for Boxer Beer results from a weird law in relations to alcohol advertising in Ontario. The law roughly states that alcohol advertising cannot relate to sports, or basically anything that requires skill.

The regulators have cited rules on liquor advertising which do not allow ads which link “consumption of liquor with any other activity that requires care and skill or has elements of danger.”

The ad on the brewery website suggests that “you require alcohol to obtain or enhance athletic prowess. It is part of the lifestyle aspect,” Lisa Murray, a spokesperson for the AGCO, was quoted as saying in the local media Monday . Now who could have complained to the regulators? Obviously, the established Canadian brands as 12 cans of Boxer Beer are available for just $16 as against much higher price one pays for their brands.

And there are double standards as known Canadian beer brands endorse sporting events and their advertisements regularly show their association with sports. In fact, Molson Coor, Canada’s oldest brewery is the official brewer of the Vancouver Winter Olympics next month. Alleging double standards, Ravinder Minhas said, “Beer and (ice) hockey seem to have been going together as long as they have existed” in Canada.

Best of luck to the Minhas’s in their battle with Ontario. I think it is pretty amazing that in order to gain market shares, companies would rather resort to litigation and bitching about other beers instead of working in the “free market” to make their own product more competitive. Also, it seems there are some crazy laws out there regarding the whole alcohol industry. We’ve seen a few here lately such as brewers in Iowa being unable to brew above 5% ABV, Smuttynose being unable to accurately describe its beer, and now this. If the loyal readers out there have any favorite crazy beer law they want to share, comment away and we’ll post the most ridiculous one next week. And if you are in Helena, I’ll buy you a beer down at the Blackfoot if you win!

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    Miles Anfinson currently lives in Helena, Montana where he was born and raised. A year ago, he graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, where he spent four years tasting and drinking beer in the microbrew mecca of the United States. Aside from drinking beer, he enjoys collecting growlers and has a collection of over 120.

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    • Up_for_grabs

      Did Boxer ever get this figured out up North? It recently became available in the Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska markets and I like it!

    • Scuberdiver

      I just suffered through the Boxer comercial 3 times in 15 min. I have been driven away from this beer totaly


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